FAQFrequently Asked Questions

What is a co-op apartment corporation, and what are the differences between residential and ground lease co-ops?

A co-op apartment building is a popular style of living in which the owners of single-family apartments, collectively own, as shareholders, the building or complex in which they and their families live.

Those living in a ground lease co-op also own the building, but the co-op corporation does not own the land underneath it. Instead, a private landowner rents the land to the co-op. Many of these leases were written as far back as the 1950s and were signed by a now long-gone developer, and many have changed hands over the years.

Today, as many ground leases approach the end of their terms, fundamental flaws in the residential ground lease system - never anticipated decades ago - are being made apparent. Some ground lease co-ops have been threatened by their landowners with rent increases as high as 1,000 percent, while others have been told by their landlords that they intend to simply take ownership of the homes that the co-op owners invested their life's savings in.

Legislative protection is needed as it is fundamentally unfair that co-op owners in ground lease co-ops be at the mercy of landowners who exercise monopolistic power over their fate. Ground lease co-op homeowners must be extended the same rights and protections of other apartment owners and tenants.

How many New Yorkers live in ground lease co-ops?

According to the Ground Lease Coop Coalition, a non-partisan group committed to ensuring the rights of those living in ground lease buildings, more than 25,000 New Yorkers live in ground lease co-ops.

The majority of ground lease co-op apartments are located in the outer boroughs. Queens hosts the most with 4,718 out of 11,836.

How would you describe the typical ground lease co-op owner?

The owners of ground lease co-ops are diverse and do not fit into a single ethnic, income, or cultural profile. Residents include teachers, fire fighters, nurses and other working class New Yorkers. Others have resided in their buildings for 20 years or more, and include retirees on fixed incomes, and those seeking accessible living that is close to houses of worship, health care providers, public transportation, local parks and community attractions.

Approximately how many residential ground lease co-ops are located in New York State and where are they primarily located?

It is estimated that approximately 100 multi-unit apartment buildings are located in New York. The bulk of these are in the Metro-region, including Westchester, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

More than 5,500 ground lease co-op apartments can be found in outer borough neighborhoods such as: Flushing, Hollis Hills, and Whitestone, Queens; Sheepshead Bay and Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Spuytin Dyvil in the Bronx.

In Westchester County, Dobbs Ferry, New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon and Yonkers are home to multiple large ground lease co-op communities.

Click to view a map of ground lease co-op building locations in Metro New York.

What types of consumer and tenant protections are being offered by Assembly Bill 5031A / Senate Bill 7825?

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Senator Liz Krueger has four main components aimed at providing solutions and fundamental rights to those living in ground lease co-ops.

Right to Affordability and Predictability. It is not uncommon for the terms and conditions of various ground leases to have been established decades ago, or to have been sold to new owners. When the dates associated with various escalation clauses arrive, long-term tenants may face exorbitant rent increases, accept threatening conditions or face eviction from their homes.

Right to Borrow for Repair, Maintenance and Capital Improvements. The terms and conditions of some ground leases require the authorization of the landlord to make necessary repairs and improvements to the building and building systems.

In some cases, some ground leases prohibit co-op owners from borrowing for these fundamental projects or landlords seek exorbitant fees in exchange for their authorization to make these essential changes. Further, some financial institutions are reluctant to make loans due to expiring lease terms or escalation clauses.

Right to Renew. Some landowners can refuse to renew a lease resulting in the evictions of long-term tenants and the loss of their ownership rights to the apartment.

Right of First Refusal. Ground lease co-op residents have a connection to the land they occupy, use and invest in on a long-term basis. Co-op owners are seeking the ability to purchase the land under the same terms the landowner may have agreed to with another potential buyer.

Was the proposed legislation modeled after existing law?

The legislation is modeled after existing statutes in the Real Property Law – approved in 2019 - pertaining to those residing in manufactured homes.

Does it apply to land owned by the state or city, or charitable organizations such as houses of worship?

No. The legislation only applies to ground leases with private landowners.

Is the state legislature authorized to make law relative to the ground leases and protections extended to co-op residents and those who own the parcel of land occupied by the structure?

Yes. Legislation regulating the landlord-tenant relationship and housing policy in general is a core function of state government. Whether it be rent stabilization, laws that provide tenants with renewal rights, right-of-first refusals and/or the right to purchase the land from landlords, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently in upholding these laws. In fact, the power of states to regulate prices and rents has been upheld against due process and takings claims for more than 100 years. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals opines: “Striking an appropriate balance between the sharply diverging interests of landlords and tenants involves negotiation and compromise over a very long list of complicated and difficult questions. Resolving such questions is a quintessential function of a legislature.” (59 F.4th at 547).

If enacted into law, will the proposed legislation impose any cost on New York's taxpayers?

No. This legislation will provide housing fairness, stability, and predictability to more than 25,000 New Yorkers and their families. There is no cost to state taxpayers.